Psoriasis and the flu: What you need to know if you are taking an immunosuppressive drug

Flu season can be a serious health threat for people with psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis who are taking immunosuppressive drugs.

National Psoriasis Foundation Medical Board recently released a report outlining its vaccination recommendations for patients taking immunosuppressive medication, including biologic (Enbrel, Humira, Stelara, Simponi and Remicade) or systemic (cyclosporine or methotrexate). If you are taking immunosuppressive drugs, here are the recommendations during flu season:

  • View the CDC's FluView mapGet vaccinated early. The same medications that suppress psoriasis make people more vulnerable to the flu.
  • Receive only inactivated vaccines. Seasonal flu vaccines come in inactivated (given as a shot) and active forms (given as a nasal spray). People taking medications that suppress the immune system should only receive the inactivated vaccines.
  • Take more daily health precautions. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends avoiding close contact with people who are sick, washing your hands frequently, and avoiding touching the eyes, nose and mouth.

If people with psoriasis or psoriatic arthritis develop the flu while taking an immunosuppressive drug, it may be necessary to temporarily stop the treatment—known as taking a "drug holiday"—to get better. Be sure to talk with your doctors if this occurs.

Learn more about the flu and psoriasis »

Visit the CDC website for information about the seasonal flu vaccine »